21 August, 1999
Aloha, It is Saturday night at midnight and it looks like 8:00am in the morning. The sun is out over the bay and the sky has cleared at the base. This morning we were socked in with fog from moisture-laden air from the ocean. We ate breakfast, where we met some Canadian military personnel here to resupply military bases in Eureka and Alert on Ellesmere Island, Canada. Ellesmere Island is 400 miles to the northwest of Thule.
We then took a trip to Pingarssuit Mountain. It is the highest point on the base and Jack wanted to get a camera shot for his web site/ photographic journal of the area. It was extremely windy and cold as you can see from the pictures, even though we were in the sunshine above the clouds obscuring the base. Again, I was mesmerized by the rocks; Kevin commented that this is the place where God made rocks. The pink and gray striped stones covered the hillside. The crescent glacier glinting in the sun also lay to one side of the mountain. (See Pic.) Before us spread the bay and behind us the icecap.
We then went to the ice cap at Camp Tuto (short for Thule take off). This camp was built to resupply the experimental "Camp Century", a base built below the ice cap. Camp Century, now abandoned, was fueled by a nuclear reactor and housed a number of military personnel. It is now just a large freezer box a hundred miles out on to the ice cap. The snow covered most areas, but it was melting into streams and in places revealed the azure blue color of frozen solid ice underneath (See Pic). I crashed through the thin ice into ankle deep water at times misjudging the strength of the surface, but the socks that I had purchased quickly pulled the water away from my skin. The effect is called wicking and is a property of the synthetic material. I was amazed that my foot didn't feel wet or get cold after the initial seconds of contact with the cold water. The ice was very bright and we were protected from the wind by a large gravel mound. We contemplated a friendly game of ice hockey. Looking up at the sky we observed a sundog (See Pic.) Sundogs are formed by ice crystals present in the 30 below zero air. The ice crystals in the atmosphere refract the sunlight like a prism.
We then went to look for an ice tunnel that had been drilled into the permafrost for experiments, I suppose similar to the CRREL ice tunnel in Alaska, but with no fossils (See the July journals). The glaciers have worn down the rock in Greenland to an age before life appeared on the planet. This is the oldest exposed rock in the world, known as Precambrian rock. Jack said that this has been an unusually mild summer and the ice cap looks like it has melted down about 3-4 feet, so the entrance might now be visible. We did find it, but the entrance cover had a small opening, which filled the tunnel with water and refroze. It would take a bit of drilling to get through.
We returned to the mess hall and to our barracks to see if there were any messages as to our permit. Not yet. It looks as though we will have to wait until Monday.
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